Monday, December 10, 2012

Nintendo Support Page Doesn't Recognize Wii U Error Code [UPDATED]

[UPDATE] After poking around Miiverse for a while, I came across two figure-heads of Nintendo. And what do they have prefixing their names? Why "Nintendo", of course. I had assumed that was the deal, but hey, it's good to finally know.

I picked up a Wii U. Yes, I broke down a bought one. Best Buy had them online, I had $85 in Reward Zone certificates, so I snagged the Deluxe edition; can you blame me?

Well, after the (far from arduous) update process, I get to create my Nintendo Network ID. I'm known around the webs as "Nintendo Tim", give or take the space there. I get error code 102-2572 on my GamePad:

Mother. Fucker.
I check Nintendo's support page for more information:

Fucking seriously, Nintendo? Your error code database doesn't have the error code for "User can't create a Nintendo Network ID"?

I look at the TV for more information. Here's the complexity rules for a NNID:


  • The ID you choose will be visible to others using online services, such ast the friend list or Miiverse. Please do not include any personally identifying information or offensive content in your ID.
    • Check. Sort of.
  • Use between six and 16 characters. You can use numbers, letters, periods, dashes, and underscores. 
    • Done. I've got 11.
  • You cannot use punctuation as the first or last character of your ID. You also cannot use two or more punctuation characters in a row.
    • Don't have any to begin with.

Presumably, Nintendo reserves "Nintendo" for their employees, as I've seen many NOA employees have "NOA" at the beginning of their name, so it may be to reduce confusion on a Nintendo system; I certainly wouldn't want to be hammered with people asking my questions about Nintendo-related anything, but I certainly wouldn't mind answering their questions. 

I've been "Nintendo Tim" for a while now (several years), so my only problem is...what do I name myself now?

Monday, November 26, 2012

[REVIEW] The Walking Dead: Episode 5 - No Hope Left

Release Date: November 20, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360

What's Great: Fantastic end to a fantastic story. The revelation towards the end was a pretty good shocker...highlight the rest to read: the guy on the walkie was the guy who owned the car you ransacked at the end of Episode 2. He also knows (just about) everything you've done since the beginning of the game, thanks to Clementine and the walkie talkie. He serves more of a recollective purpose of the story, a way to reflect on your decisions thus far. I honestly didn't expect him to be tied in this way, and surprises are always nice. It's also not clear if Kenny actually died - at least in my playthrough - when attempting to save Ben (yes, he came along with me); I wonder if Kenny would've come with me if I had not saved Ben in Episode 4....

What's (Not So) Great: The season 2 cliffhanger. Goddamn, did I fucking yell at the TV.

Bottom Line: I...just...it's hard writing this. I knew what was coming, I knew how this would end, but goddamn it, Telltale, do you know how to pull at a man's heartstrings. I damn neared cried at the end, and I haven't done that since Final Fantasy X.

You owe it to yourself to play this in it's entirety. $5 an episode, $25 total, or $30 for the retail package next month. You won't be disappointed.

Grade: A

(I beat the game, made a few choices that actually fell with the minority of players, and nearly bawled like a fucking baby at the end.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Xbox LIVE 10-Year Anniversary Consoles Aren't the Only Things Microsoft is Giving Away


You know that fancy-schmancy Xbox 360 that Microsoft is sending out to those that've been on Xbox LIVE Gold ever since it's inception 10 years ago? Well, it looks like they're sending out something else.

I've been on Xbox LIVE for 7 years, if you believe my "Tenure" status on my XBL profile. It's been an on-and-off relationship, as I'm currently a Free/Silver subscriber (membership expired a few weeks ago).

I just got an email from Xbox LIVE Rewards VIP Exclusives, including some snazzy stats (check out the full image after the break, tho, it says I have 0 friends (lies!), 0 hours in entertainment (believable) and 0 hours in multiplayer (definitely believable), all over the course of the past year), as well as as voucher for the little number you see above: an Xbox Anniversary-themed Helmet. It may not be free Gold, or that special system, but free, exclusive digital content to show off to others?

Yea, sure, why not?

Monday, November 12, 2012

[REVIEW] Assassin's Creed III

Release Date: October 30, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Plays Like: Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Red Dead Redemption

What's Great: I initially gave a skeptic's eye to the idea of the Frontier: a land devoid of buildings, save for a few shacks or outposts, full of Red Dead Redemption in Colonial America. It turned out to be better than I anticipated, considering the vast amount of trees and cliffsides that allowed for climbing/free-running.

The hunting, while given more of a spotlight during the the games various tutorials than Red Dead Redemption, is more robust, what with snares and bait. You can even scan clues laying about that will indicate a certain creature, which will add to the database for that region, and will ping one for you to track and kill. But unlike RDR, you shouldn't sell the pelts or teeth you get, but they end up being supplies for crafting.

Even though Ezio is no more, I enjoyed him up until Revelations, where he became kind of annoying. Connor is actually pretty cool, but he wasn't worth his salt until he became an adult and donned the Assassin's gear. After that, the game came together, and felt like a new entry in the franchise. It's more Assassin's Creed, which is something I love.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why I Switched from iOS to Windows Phone, Then Came Crawling Back [UPDATE]

For a while now, I've been complaining to friends and family of how "boring" iOS is. It's the same apps, the same bullshit on the phone, the same interface...Apple isn't doing enough to make iOS feel new with each major update. I even had friends tell me how much I'd miss iOS; I brushed it off with enough reasons that I would tell myself it was the right decision to make.

iOS 6 brought two major updates: Maps and Passport. Unfortunately, Maps was horrid, and Passport is lackluster, at best. It started to feel as if Apple was running into a wall, and kept trying to make the best of it. The GUI has been the same, and it feels old.

That's why when Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 8, I was actually pretty excited. Android is essentially a copy/paste of iOS, so I know I won't fit in there. Samsung's Galaxy S series, while nice, isn't enough to get me to switch. With WP8 (and WP7 before it), there was a huge draw: mobile Xbox Live games.

Sure, there's your Angry Birds and your Fruit Ninjas, but it's the prospect of Xbox on WP8, the allure, the idea of it. Simply being able to play games on the Xbox service on your cell phone was just enough to get me to switch.

Sadly, I'd find out soon enough that wasn't the case.

This past Friday, November 9, I stopped by Best Buy when I got off of work to pick up the Nokia Lumia 920. After debating between HTC's 8X and the 920, I finally settled on the latter. I waltzed in, sat down at the desk with an employee who I know, and had them hook me up with the 920. After a small snafu of the contract renewal not packaging out with the phone, I walked out with a new phone, and relieved of $105. Since I'm grandfathered into AT&T's Unlimited Data, I was afraid I would lose this going to an LTE/4G device. Nope! I was actually upgraded to "grandfathered unlimited LTE/4G data". Good Guy AT&T!

Before leaving, I set up a few initial things on the new phone, such as connected accounts - Live ID, Facebook, Gmail - and the sorts, and headed home. On my drive home, I found that my iPhone was receiving emails quicker than my Lumia. "Maybe I didn't enable Push settings," I thought. While at a red light, I scurried through my settings; the quickest syncing option I had was every 15 minutes, despite having Push enabled on my iPhone. Whatever, I figured there may be something else.

I got home, perused the Store, found a few apps and trials, and settled on buying Angry Birds Star Wars (good goddamn, that game is fun). Going to dinner that night, I found my phone quickly dying, but it only had half-battery. Again, a paltry "whatever" was thrown my phone's way, despite the phone dying while at dinner. I got home, threw it on the charger, and waited.

And waited.

And. Waited.

"This phone takes for-fucking-ever to charge! My iPhone would have had a full battery by now if it was dead, too!"

That was the first thing I noticed that was bad about the phone. The list would quickly climb during Saturday, then culminate today, hence the post. I started to compile a physical list, coincidentally using Notes on my Mac, and had a bit of a Bill O'Reilly moment on my hands:


Rather than banter on and on, here's the list:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

[LATE REVIEW] Gravity Rush


Release Date: June 12, 2012
System Reviewed: Vita
Plays Like: Nothing else, really.

What's Great: The gravity controls are somewhat difficult to master, but once you do, you end up flipping and flying throughout the game, and that feeling of just going anywhere you want - literally, anywhere - is remarkable. Despite being able to just fucking fly everywhere, the level design is very intricate, even thought the main job (that I've been able to discern) is to hide the power gems and warp points. The various nooks and crannies, combined with tunnels, underground passages, hidden areas reachable only by gravity manipulation, the seemingly random staircases, the world itself has an interesting high level of detail, with all things considered

What's (Not So) Great: The camera can be wonky, especially when following Kat on a rough surface, such as the side of a building with jagged levels of windows. Combat isn't friendly early on, as once you start learning new moves (Gravity slide kick and the spin drill attack) it becomes confusing on how to properly implement them, but you will eventually get the hang of it. Unfortunately, until get the hang of combat, the clunky camera can make combat fucking horrendous.

Bottom Line: Gravity Rush is a game you should play on your Vita. It's on par with Uncharted: Golden Abyss in terms of execution of a new game on new hardware, as these are, quite possibly, the best games on the system to-date. That may change come this holiday season, but if you want a game that's going to make you regret buying the system less and less, you have to play this game.

GradeB-

(Played the game to it's completion, story wise. Earned a 58% of Trophies collected (2 being Gold), going out of my way on various occasions to grab those shiny fuckers known as Power Gems. Killed only one Rare Nevi and earned 'Top Cat' Trophy; that's the full respect of the townsfolk.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

[REVIEW] Dishonored

Release Date: October 9, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Plays Like: Deus Ex, Thief, BioShock

What's Great: First and foremost, the one thing I loved the most was the art direction. Thanks to art director Sebastien Mitton (BioShock 2) and designer Harvey Smith (the original System Shock, as well as the first two Deus Ex games), working with Viktor Antonov - the lead director on the game, who also helped create Half-Life 2 - you have this wondrous world, built on parts from steampunk, crossed with gothic architecture, and a little BioShock Infinite, as well. Fame isn't what I'm getting at here, it's the history these gentlemen have. With wondrous games under their belt, out on store shelves and praised by critics, you have this amalgamation of brilliant ideas that culminate in a blend of fantastic art direction and level design.

Going with said level design, the multiple ways to achieve your goal is splendid, being given various ways to complete objectives. You may start out with "kill this guy" as your objective, but on your way to the boat to depart, you are given a side mission to "spare this fellow", and by doing so, you open up another method of taking out your target. Hell, you may even befriend a particular shopkeep who offers to take care of a hit, but requires the combination to an aristocrat's safe in his abandoned home as payment. Furthermore, and it must be said, the absolute beauty in the game design is that you can go through your game and not kill one...fucking...soul.

Finally, there's the Chaos system, which doesn't act as a morality system, but more of how stable the game world is. With the rampant rat plague in the world, it turns our victims into "weepers", who spew the plague forth from their mouth, and attack anything but their own kind. The more dead bodies you leave in your wake, the more food the infested rats have, and with a food supply, their numbers grow, infecting more people. Further in the game, a higher Chaos in the world means more rats, more weepers, and more, well, chaos in the game, making it more difficult (or easy, depending on how you look at it) to make your marks. The Chaos system - combined with some key choices throughout the game - will eventually tell the end-tale to your story.

What's (Not So) Great: Unfortunately, when you spend more time to the gameplay, level design, and art direction, some things get put to the wayside. Key point: the story. Not only is it convolulted, it's burdened with many sub-plot-points. I can see it as a way to help build this new fictional world, but you have (let's count): Orwellian government control on the rise, plague-infested rats, whale oil, magic, kidnapped princess, and prohibition...there is a lot going on in the game world. Just let Penny Arcade take the lead on this one.

The controls can be difficult to learn, as a few things - such as trying to subdue an enemy from behind - may not be as clear to the game as they are to you; there have been many a time where I have hit [RB] to choke a guy out, and I just bring my sword up to block. The lack of a map is the one thing that absolutely bugged the shit out of me. There are even maps you find in the game of the layout, but for some reason, you can't bring it with you and reference it. I can see in areas where a map may end up breaking the game, but if you are the former Empress' bodyguard, who is in a seemingly not-so rag-tag group of misfits, who have access to armaments and a hideout the government has yet to find, you'd think you could carry a piece of parchment with a map on it.

Mission history isn't great. I wish we had something along the lines of Skyrim, at least, where the dialogue in the mission history menu would update itself when you perform a major milestone in your current mission. Instead, we get a "Kill this guy" line, and the blurb off to the right is just about the main target, and not about the currently selected (sub)mission.

Bottom Line: With a bevy of developers with a hell of a repertoire to boot, Dishonored has shaped up to be a hell of a fantastic new IP. The ending doesn't necessarily hint at future installments, but considering Dunwal is the capitol of just one of the four islands that make up the Isles (and that Corvo had been sent away to those islands prior the beginning of the game), there is, no doubt, more to explore in this world.

Grade: A

(Completed the game on Normal difficulty, earning 24 out of 50 Achievements, totaling 430 GamerScore. To avoid spoilers, I earned the "Just Dark Enough" Achievement, which indicates I had a low Chaos level when beating the game. If you want to see what that means, highlight the following text: a successful rescue of Emily put her on the throne, and rescuing Piero and Sokolov helped create a cure for the plague. Corvo, himself, played out his duty as bodyguard to Emily, and upon his passing, was buried in the same tomb that the Empress herself was buried.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

[REVIEW] The Walking Dead: Episode 4 - Around Every Corner


Release Date: October 10, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Plays Like: The other Walking Dead chapters; The Secret of Monkey Island

(Ed. Note: It goes without saying, but some may find spoilers in here, despite them not being blatant. You have been warned.)

What's Great: It's really hard to say great things about this, as I don't want to spoil anything here. The episode starts strong, plays strong, and ends very well. This episode doesn't see too many people die this time around (as opposed to the rack of people that were offed last episode), but you do get your hand at killing a shitload more walkers.

What's (Not So) Great: Everything to date that's been questionable still applies: odd controls, strangely worded decisions, outcomes that don't necessarily fit. It may be the downfall of point-and-click adventure games.

Bottom Line: This episode has probably been the best one so far, as it contains some pretty heavy twists and turns within the group, and not to mention it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. Having your group with you is probably the most satisfying while venturing into a barricaded town. There was a slight emotional event towards the end, which may end up being a bit of foreshadowing for the final episode.

Grade: A-

(Played the entirety of the story, being lumped into the majority of the rest of players with all decisions, except for the first one.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wii U Launch Titles Confirmed; 23 Games to Satiate Your Wallet on Day 1


Nintendo has confirmed all 23 launch titles for the Wii U. Which ones are actually worth the money, that's up to you. Glancing over it - multi-platform and/or re-releases aside - there are some great games available, with about 15 titles (give or take) that I would be interested in, such as Assassin's Creed 3 or Ninja Gaiden 3. Remove those aforementioned factors, and the list diminishes to just two: New Super Mario Bros. U and ZombiU.

Regardless, here's your launch titles, and you can find the remainder of the "launch window" games - defined as those with release dates between November 19 and March 31 - after the break. I've taken the liberty of bolding any titles that are of worthy consideration:

  • Assassin's Creed 3
  • Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition
  • Call of Duty Black Ops 2
  • Darksiders 2
  • Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
  • EA Sports FIFA Soccer 13
  • ESPN Sports Connection
  • Game Party Champions
  • Just Dance 4
  • New Super Mario Bros. U
  • Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge
  • Nintendo Land
  • Rabbids Land
  • Scribblenauts Unlimited
  • Sing Party
  • Skylanders Giants
  • Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Wii U Edition
  • Transformers Prime
  • Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper
  • Wipeout 3
  • Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013
  • ZombiU

Sunday, September 23, 2012

[REVIEW] Mark of the Ninja


Release Date: September 7, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Plays LikeShadow Complex, 2D CastlevaniaMetroid

What's Great: Classic, two-dimensional exploration. There have been games that have dabbled with stealth in 2D, but this game almost nails it. The controls, once mastered, make you feel like a ninja, as you're flying across the screen, grappling to a fro, ducking into air vents, hiding out of sight.

Terrorizing guards is a absolute treat. The game's stealth is done to a point, where you could distract one guard, who's mid-conversation with another, while you dangle down from a perch point, haul him up Batman Connor-style, hide out in a secondary location, and wait for the guard to return to his conversation, only to find the lifeless body of his comrade strung up to a light post. God damn is that awesome.

Lastly, the stealth improvements are phenomenal, especially the whole "fog of war". You can't see what your character literally cannot see. Whatever is out of his line of sight becomes blurry, and any enemy that was once visible that walks away becomes blurry, then disappears, with his own last known location appearing. There's even the rings of sound that emanate from their source, be it footsteps or a dart that hits a surface.

What's (Not So) Great: Some may find the structured way that new abilities are doled out a bit of a downer, as your ability tree is slowly unlocked as you beat story-missions. One of the most powerful moves is the last thing you learn (part of the whole "tattoos give you powers" line), but is tied to a suit you have to wear, rather than an innate ability, such as freezing time. Then again, it's a trade-off, but it'd be nice to be this "all powerful" ninja.

Bottom Line: Mark of the Ninja has quickly shaped what other stealth games should be doing. Be it a new Shinobi title or Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, every game within the genre should take some pointers from this game. The guys and gals at Klei have been on a rampage since N+, followed up with the Shank games. The entire game is great, and comes highly recommended to many gamers.

Grade: A-

(Played the game in it's entirety, but wasn't masochistic enough for New Game+. Earned 22 out of 30 Achievements, worth 265 points.)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bayonetta 2 Announced, Wii U Exclusive, Nintendo Published


No release date, but it certainly is surprising.

No gameplay was shown, just bullets, guns on feet, more bullets, and an adversary in the distance.

Wii U Launches November 18, Two SKUs, Starting at $300


Boom.

Reggie just announced the Wii U is launching 2 weeks prior to the Japanese release, hitting the States on November 18, in two flavors.

The Deluxe edition, primarily the one just about everyone will be buying, has everything listed in the shot:


And yes, that's Nintendo Land as the pack-in game. For those with strained eye-sight:

  • Wii U console
  • Wii U GamePad
  • AC adapter for each
  • HDMI cable
  • Wii U sensor bar
  • Additional memory (32 GB)
  • GamePad charging cradle
  • Stands for GamePad and Console
  • Nintendo Land
The Basic pack has everything north from the additional memory; you're only getting 8 GB here.

As stated, we have two months until release, and here's your pricing:


Enjoy the wallet crunching, ladies and gents; it's going to be a bumpy holiday season.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

[EDITORIAL] What Nintendo Needs to Do With the Wii U; End Game

We're almost done! The fifth, and final, installment of this editorial of mine on the Wii U. Exactly how does Nintendo expect to win over their long-time fans, those they swooned with the Wii, and the developers they desperately need to create invigorating experiences? Where can Nintendo go from here, and how can they make sure they utilize their one year's head start and keep Microsoft and Sony off of their heels? Keep reading to find out...

Over the years, Nintendo has never really been known for having powerful hardware, but more of having a powerful library of IPs and franchises they could put on that hardware. Between their top franchises - Mario, Pok√©mon, and The Legend of Zelda, to name a few - Nintendo has a very compelling catalog. Asides from the already announced New Super Mario Bros. U, along side Pikmin 3, they are the only "main" Nintendo properties on the system announced thus far. It's assumed we'll see Link in Hyrule Field soon enough (whether or not it'll be similar to the HD demo we've seen is yet to be known, so don't go believing rumors quite yet), and we're hoping for a new Metroid and StarFox entry within a reasonable time. We haven't gotten wind of what's going on, but that's OK. What concerns me the most is that, despite Nintendo already having a fairly solid lineup for the system, their third parties are only content with bringing ports, and the Wii U needs more than that.

This is not enough to get me to buy the Wii U version.

Having Assassin's Creed III and Batman: Arkham City - the two power-house third-party games - on the system is great; the crowds were almost over-gasped when they announced them. Arkham City was a great game, but it's a year old. Assassin's Creed III is bound to be a fantastic entry, but it's a month and a half after it's initial release on other systems that people already own. I've yet to meet someone who is holding out for the Wii U versions of these games. We don't need ports that restructure the game and make it appear "tailored" to the Wii U; remember back to Sony saying they don't want Wii ports for the Move. There needs to be fresh experiences, and being exclusive helps.

Two prime examples are ZombiU and Rayman Legends. Coincidentally, they're both from Ubisoft, who has stated they don't plan on investing too much into the system, but after the purported shit-storm Nintendo caused between themselves and EA over using the Nintendo Network as an Origin platform, it looks more like Ubisoft and Nintendo are best buds. I don't expect too much from EA, as the gimped Madden 13 doesn't speak well for their integrity with their Wii U releases, but there are plenty of other third party developers Nintendo can woo.

Friday, September 7, 2012

[EDITORIAL] What Nintendo Needs to Do With the Wii U; Installment 04

We're back with part 4 of this massive editorial, focusing on Nintendo's direction competition: Sony, Microsoft, and Apple, and what they have geared up for their respective futures. Nintendo has a conference coming up on September 13, where the final bits of news is expected to be released. History has shown that Nintendo loves September announcements for pricing/availability for their upcoming systems, so expect this day to be the day we learn how much of a hit our credit cards are to take.

This year, we see Nintendo not only initiate the eighth generation of home consoles, but this is the first time in Nintendo's history since the NES that they've released a console before their competition. Not only is this an incredibly bold move by Nintendo, but it's also naive. They're allowing their competition know how they're handling their new system, giving them a deep insight to their plans, and adjust accordingly. Assuming the Wii U lands in November, that gives Microsoft and Sony 7 months between then and E3 next year to tweak their battle plans and come out swinging. That is, if Nintendo is tight-lipped on pertinent info that won't come to light until the release; otherwise, if this upcoming press conference is much more info than just pricing and release date, that makes it 9 months. Seven to nine months is enough time to tweak just about anything they need to; if Microsoft can take SmartGlass from initial on-paper design to displayable prototype to the masses in twelve months, then three-fourths of that time is ample.

* * *

To date, Microsoft hasn't said shit on the Xbox Next (or Durango, Xbox 720, Xbox Infinite, what have you). If you recall that document leak back in June, Microsoft actually confirmed it to be legitimate, even if it was "out-dated" by their measures. Regardless, it's interesting information. Things such as Project Fortaleza (or "Kinect Glasses") seems to bridge Kinect elements with Google Glasses concepts. Halo 5 isn't billed as a launch title, but it's coming shortly after. The Kinect 2 appears to want to talk to Xbox controllers for further integration. The system itself is to be $200-300, the same price range it's at now. There's a lot going on in there, but the juiciest information is right above. 

Microsoft's back catalog of games needs some love, especially Rare. They've been on the front lines lately, with the various Kinect Sports games, and the minds behind Avatars. Despite this pivotal piece for Microsoft, Rare hasn't done shit with their respective properties since Banjo-Kajooie: Nuts & Bolts. What about Killer Instinct 3? Where the hell has Joanna Dark been? My most important question is "why hasn't Rare made a new IP?". That question may be answered with the next generation; hell, we may even get to see that realistic Kameo sequel. If you unleash Rare, the last few ounces of faith I have in them tells me that, since they've been away from their original IPs over the course of the 00s, they can very well come back with a slew of fresh ideas for Banjo, Perfect Dark, and Kameo.

I've already talked my head off of how SmartGlass may very well become something great; I'm not going to banter on any further. I will, however, drop this nugget in here: if they really wanted to be sly enough, release the SmartGlass app on the 3DS and the Vita.

[REVIEW] The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Hearthfire

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Hearthfire
Release Date: September 4, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Plays Like: Minecraft, The Sims

What's Great: It's something else to do. We've spent a hundred hours in the game killing and wandering, so being able to relax and build a house and adopt some kids is nice. Adopting is probably the oddest part out of the entire expansion, especially for those that never started the Dark Brotherhood story line. With the raw materials, you're not out gathering them like ingredients; most can be purchased at a general store.

What's (Not So) Great: Tracking down a general store that actually sells glass or hay is probably the most frustrating, or even a sawmill that's willing to part with their lumber. I bought the plot of land just north of Morthal, and I ended up having to fast-travel to Riverwood just to buy lumber; the saw mill in Morthal never gave me the option to purchase lumber, and the general store is more of an apothecary's general store. Again, Riverwood ended up being my general store of choice here.

Bottom Line: A radically different expansion than what many were expecting before the official revealing, Hearthfire is more of a content add-on or a mod, rather than a full-blown expansion, like Dawnguard. If you like chores, then you may very well like this. It's an enjoyable content pack, as you can fully customize your own home, rather than buying one in-town and not being able to much outside of having the steward do it for you (even though you can hire one for your new house). It's not terrible, but if you've been playing for quite a while, you may have a ton of iron ores/ingots (like myself), and you can crank out a house in a matter of minutes, which reduces the perceived value of the expansion. Then again, it's only $5.

Grade: C+

(Bought the plot just north of Morthal, and built a full house with 3 wings. Stocked a ton of shit in the house, but never put any kids in there ended up adopting the little flower girl in Windhelm.)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

First Footage of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes Emerges


First there was the official unveiling, now there's the direct-feed footage of 11 minutes of absolute glory

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is, apparently, hitting Xbox 360 and the PS3 sometime next year. You know what also hits next year? The Xbox Next and PS4.

This game looks too good to be running on current gen systems (yes, this has been confirmed to be real-time, not pre-rendered), so this demo must be running on hardware spec'd out as if it were next gen, much like the speculation for Remember Me and Star Wars 1313. If this ends up being a launch title for next-gen, I won't be shocked.

If this ends up on the Wii U, then I will be.

[REVIEW] The Walking Dead: Episode 3 - Long Road Ahead

The Walking Dead: Episode 3 - Long Road Ahead
Release Date: August 29, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Plays Like: The other Walking Dead chapters; The Secret of Monkey Island

(Ed. Note: It goes without saying, but some may find spoilers in here, despite them not being blatant. You have been warned.)

What's Great: A continuation of the great story so far. It escalates fairly quickly, but it gets just as shocking as the last two chapters, so it definitely keeps you on your toes. Just like in the last episode, prior events do shape how things change and proceed, so you may want to freshen up on your decision choices before plunging into it.

What's (Not So) Great: The story's escalation. In the second chapter, shit didn't happen until later in the tale, whereas here, it goes down within the first 30 minutes or so. I still find issue with the controls (moving the cursor with the right-stick, and making decisions with the face buttons isn't exactly prime, nor is using the D-Pad for choices as an alternative, forcing you to move away from the left-stick). Some of the reaction times during fights seem to have been shortened, so you may find yourself dying more than you did previously.

Bottom Line: The entire story arc is getting better, with some of the side-stories either coming to a close, or escalating beyond belief. During the first hour or two, I had Ron Burgandy's voice calmly saying:


The game is getting better, what with twists and turns become more prevalent. The ending wasn't as shocking as the last, and there was more "to do" than there was story, but it still has me anticipating Episode 4.

Grade: B

(Played the entirety of the Episode. Kind of hard to tell you what I did, considering that there's not much branching off you can do.)

Friday, August 31, 2012

[EDITORIAL] What Nintendo Needs to Do With the Wii U; Thrice

If you caught the subtle music reference, good on you.

In this third installment, we're all about how you interact with the Wii U, primarily, the GamePad. We're gearing up for the September 13 conference Nintendo is holding. History has shown that Nintendo loves September announcements for pricing/availability for their upcoming systems, so expect this day to be the day we learn how much of a hit our credit cards are to take.

The biggest hurdle that Nintendo has in this generation, asides from not knowing a fucking thing that Sony and Microsoft are doing, is convincing people - customers and developers - that the GamePad is worth the investment. The GamePad, in itself, is an amalgamation of various technology knick-knacks we've grown accustomed to over the years. One part tablet, one part controller, squeeze in some social networking, add a touch of NFC (Near-Field Communication), and you've got a clusterfuck of gizmos.

By and large, it's main goal is to be a controller. In reality, it's nothing more than a gigantic, single-screened DS. Think about it: your TV would be the top screen, delivering the goodies to your noodle, while the controller's screen - a touch enabled screen, mind you - is where you interact with the game, with menu inputs, maps, inventory management...all the shit we've seen in DS games over the past 8 years. If the GamePad is allowing you to play the Wii U games on the controller, what's the point of the 3DS?

Between the 3DS, the GamePad, and the Wii U, cross-play gaming should be a no-brainer. Sega, of all companies, started the whole cross-play aspect with the Dreamcast and the Visual Memory Unit (or the VMU); sadly, it didn't catch on like it should have, as the technology then was severely limiting it. Then, Nintendo caught on with the GameCube and the GameBoy Advance, and the connection using the Link Cable; this was a hindrance, as some games (such as Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles) didn't suggest using the GBA, it was almost forced. Next up to the plate was Sony, and while the PSP was a great move forward with interlinking home console and portable system, the Vita is where it took off, as your game saves could go back and forth, making the Vita a true "portable PlayStation", despite some severe limitations. Where Sega started, Nintendo innovated, and Sony took on full-force.

* * *

A fantastic idea.
Also, the worst infographic ever.
The Vita, despite having sluggish sales and a poor library thus far (with a few gems), the connection there between it and the PS3 is fairly remarkable. I recently picked up WipEout 2048 on the Vita, but only after it was announced that WipEout HD's content was going to be a free download for anyone who owns both versions. It was a great step forward for the cross-compatibility, but there are huge hurdles that need to be gotten rid of. Main point? Why the fuck do I need to own a copy on both systems in order to bring it over? Much like Digital Copy and Ultraviolet for DVDs, or even ripping my CDs to my computer and dumping them on my iPhone, why in the name of fuck can't I get a digital download of the Vita version if I buy the PS3 version? Thankfully, Sony has recently unveiled their Cross Buy platform at Gamescom, where if you buy the PS3 version, you get the Vita version for free. They've yet to detail the program - Can I buy the Vita version and get the PS3 verison? Is it a digital version of the Vita game? - but Sony has some big games lined up for the service, and is definitely a welcomed addition.

[REVIEW] Darksiders II

Darksiders II
Release Date: August 14, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Plays Like: The Legend of Zelda, God of War, Prince of Persia

What's Great: The combat has gotten much better, as your magical prowess is expanded, and the abilities you can use are actually worthwhile. The magical abilities are far more useful than the crap that War had, as these abilities grow on with one another in the skill tree. The game world definitely feels larger, especially with the different realms that you do visit; they rarely feel like "mirror worlds" of one another. Having Despair (your horse) from the very beginning is so goddamned welcome after the debacle that was the first game. 

What's (Not So) Great: The GUI and the gun. Learning that the UI team was fired back in March only helps to aid my hatred for the menus. It's generic, it's old, it's terrible to look at. It works (hardly), but it's ugly. The worst offender in the menus are the stats. If I'm looking at changing my gear around, why is it showing what the numbers are going up to rather than what they going up by? 

For example, let's say I have a cowl equipped that grants an additional 20 point of Defense. If I find another shoulder piece that's better, but doesn't offer that much added Defense, it shouldn't be showing "16", but rather "▼4", as in the new piece of equipment is dropping 4 points; this makes it seem like you're dropping 16 points of added Defense, but it means it's dropping to an increase of 16 points. This forces you to go to the currently equipped item, memorize it's stats, then go back, and see if it's worth the minus 4 points for the added 5% gilt drop. There's also the issue that some item stats actually don't appear when viewing another item. Having a gauntlet that grants an extra 5% Experience is great, but when you see a better one that gives a whole bunch of stuff but added Experience, show me that the extra Experience rate is being removed, rather than not show it at all.

What should have happened was show the stats of the currently selected item, then the stats of the currently equipped item, and compare stats between the two. You know, like every other fucking RPG out there. THQ axing the entire UI team 5 months before the release was a detriment, because it's evident that a programmer finalized the touches, and not a graphic designer; it's functional, but ugly as sin.

Bottom Line: Looking back at my time with the first Darksiders, I thoroughly enjoyed the game, but it had the little annoyances that bugged me. Two and a half years later, THQ delivers with a promising sequel, not only making the game feel richer, but the nuances I had discovered were calmed. Was every issue I had fixed? No, not quite; matter of fact, with a new RPG system, there arises several issues. However, Darksiders II is a worthy sequel, and, with THQ this close to going under, I hope that we see more entries in the series.

Grade: B

(Rented the game from GameFly, finishing the game on Normal difficulty. Never went too far out of my way for tokens or non-essentials, but if there was a treasure chest, you can bet your ass I went after it. Obtained 33 Achievements worth 530 GamerScore over 17.5 hours.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

DmC Reboot Get It's Box Art


On the Devil May Cry Facebook page, Capcom has unveiled the box art for the I-Don't-Like-White-Hair reboot.

It's sad there are still people out there that, simply because Dante's hair is a different color, they refuse to play the game. Dante's hair was still white in Devil May Cry 2, and you people still played it, despite being horrible.

I can't wait to play DmC, purely because I enjoy Ninja Theory's games. Despite never actually finishing Heavenly Sword, I enjoyed it, and Enslaved was a fantastic fucking game.

Skyrim's Second Expansion, Hearthfire, Officially Announced; Arrives In One Week


Well, we had our fun at speculation, but Bethesda dropped in this announcement video for Skyrim's next expansion, Hearthfire. No, it's not quite what you'd expect, as this is far from what Dawnguard was.

From their YouTube page:

"With this official add-on to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you can purchase land and build your own home from the ground up - from a simple one-room cottage to a sprawling compound complete with an armory, alchemy laboratory, stable, garden, and more. Use all-new tools like the drafting table and carpenter's workbench to transform quarried stone, clay, and sawn logs into structures and furnishings. Even transform your house into a home by adopting children."

 Yes, we're going to be able to adopt kids. Unless I can use them as followers and send them to battle a dragon, no thanks.

Hearthfire hits Xbox LIVE on September 4th for the measly price of 400 MSP (that's $5 in real money).

Monday, August 27, 2012

[EDITORIAL] What Nintendo Needs to Do With the Wii U; Part Deux

Here's part two of my mass-editorial I will be publishing, focusing on Nintendo, the Wii U, and just how plausible its success really is, leading up to the conference they're holding on September 13. History has shown that Nintendo loves September announcements for pricing/availability for their upcoming systems, so expect this day to be the day we learn how much of a hit our credit cards are to take.

A powerful system cannot be the only crutch Nintendo can lean on. They need help, and they need to make people know they're still innovating. Sadly, their own innovation may be their own downfall, as others are quick on their heels, even before they get out the door...

Since the GameCube, Nintendo has been showing its age. When the Wii launched, many gave Nintendo hell, referring to it as the "GameCube 1.5", as it didn't have the technical glitz nor glamour as the Xbox 360 or the PS3; it was only slightly more powerful than the Xbox. Yes, the GameCube could do [insert advantage here] and the PS2 could do [insert another one here], but the Xbox was often regarded as the powerhouse of the last generation.

Despite the lack of power, the Wii held its own while completely ignoring HDMI and (at the very least) 720p, two modern entertainment staples. Microsoft even caught itself in a fault, and added HDMI to the Xbox 360 mid-life-cycle, something fans and critics alike had hoped for in a revised Wii HD. Regardless, Nintendo skipped the revision and came full force with the Wii U (much like how they skipped on bringing the Wii Remote to the GameCube and made it less of an afterthought and more of the main attraction), including many missed opportunities the Wii left behind. It has been reported by third parties that the Wii U will be drastically underpowered compared to the Xbox Next and PS4/Orbis; Epic says that Unreal Engine 4-powered games won't find life on the Wii U past the first generation without being severely dumbed down.

Best joke ever!
Image credit: http://www.roboawesome.com/?p=16875
Fortunately, that may not be the case...

A recent report from BGR says that the Xbox Next (or Durango; what have you) will be running an eight-core CPU with 8 GB of RAM. Despite this sounding fairly powerful, this same report puts it at six times more powerful than the 360. If this report is true - which I'm taking it with the largest grain of salt known to man - then that means it's only marginally more powerful than the Wii U, which has been described as "definitely more powerful than Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3" by 5th Cell (the guys behind Scribblenauts). This puts the Wii U at about 2-4 times more powerful than the Xbox 360.

This becomes a contradiction with a recent statement from Sumo Digital's executive producer Steve Lycett (Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed) saying the Wii U "looks as good any of the HD platforms". He quickly brings our hopes back up with this number: "The Wii U has way more memory, so we can take advantage of that with less compression on elements and textures, so [Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed] will look all lovely and shiny."

Now, we all know that we shouldn't be asking "how many more times" is one system more powerful than another, but used as a general rule of thumb; despite the GameCube being regarded as an inferior system, it could still do things better than the PS2 and Xbox, something I'm hoping repeats itself with the Wii U.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Walking Dead: Episode 3 Could Actually Be Released Before the Month's End


Surely, you've been sore about the "mid-August" release date for Long Road Ahead coming and going, aren't you?

Well, if Telltale is any indication, the third episode has been sent for review, and should be out early as "next week".

[IGN]

SquareEnix Countdown Disappointment: World Ends With You Coming to iOS?


Remember that count down site on Square's website that was about The World Ends With You? The one everyone thought was going to be a sequel? Well, Square's been trolling hard, as a leak on their Japanese eShop says it's for an iOS port of the same game with new music.

Take of it what you will, but if Square thinks charging a total of $30 for episodic Final Fantasy in the form of Final Fantasy Dimensions, then Thor only knows where this could go...

[Joystiq]

Looks Like Toejam & Earl is Coming to XBLA/PSN

ToeJam & Earl is coming to digital platforms sometime soon, as Xbox360Achievements have gotten a hold of the Achievements list. It's even tagged under "Sega Vintage Collection", so it appears there are other Sega classics included in the fourth volume.

No word on when it's to hit, though, but seeing as the Achievements are out, I'd say within one or two months.

[Joystiq]

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

[EDITORIAL] What Nintendo Needs to Do With the Wii U


The Next Big Innovation?
What you're witnessing is the first part of a planned five for a mass-editorial I will be publishing, focusing on Nintendo, the Wii U, and just how plausible its success really is, leading up to the conference they're holding on September 13. History has shown that Nintendo loves September announcements for pricing/availability for their upcoming systems, so expect this day to be the day we learn how much of a hit our credit cards are to take.

May we look at Nintendo's competitors - or their own history - as inspiration for the Wii U's success? What about where they look for inspiration? What proof do we currently have that the Wii U may, or may not, be successful?

It's coming. It's inevitable. We stand on the precipice of a new generation's step forward into the spotlight. Nintendo is ushering in the eighth generation at the end of this year, and with it brings another flurry of criticisms and skepticisms. We saw it when Nintendo showed off the Wii's controller, unveiled the system as the 'Wii', and when they laid out technical specs on the system; just Google around for it, and you'll see it around the internet. Hell, it even happened with the GameCube (what with it's purple lunchbox attire) and the Nintendo 64 with it's cartridge-based games; Nintendo always receives criticism when a new system comes out.

When Nintendo first showed us the (then named) Revolution's controller, I, myself, was taken aback. It was a radical approach to a growing problem: lack of innovation. Nintendo broke conventional means of controller design they themselves created in the mid-80s, and every other console manufacturer stuck to since. Nintendo gave us some fine examples of what the controller could do, what with the pointer acting as an excellent approach to first-person games, or the accelerometers acting as their own method of input; Nintendo was ready to reinvent, or out-right create, new genres. The most ludicrous - or, dare I say, crazy - part about the entire endeavor? They knew people would buy it, and ended up ushering in the fitness craze in video games with their own Wii Fit, and others followed suit. The (purely) motion controlled games such as the pack-in Wii Sports - where there was minimal button pressing, and actually acting out what you wanted to do - was groundbreaking at the time; Nintendo is constantly seen as a key innovator in this field.

Six years later, Nintendo is in full pre-production of the Wii U, getting it's brand new system geared up for the holiday release. The Wii proved successful, because it hadn't been done before. One factor Nintendo is banking on to encourage customers to buy into their name all over again is the backwards compatibility. Not with just the games, but with every accessory made for the Wii, including games, downloaded or not; Nintendo could easily market this as "buy the new system, keep all of your old shit". The Wii U, on the other hand, is building off of two things: the established success of the Wii by keeping the name - falling victim to "sequelitis", much like the Xbox and PlayStation - and the booming success of the tablet craze Apple ushered in with the iPad.

Yes, I'm saying it: Nintendo is looking to Apple for ideas.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

[REVIEW] Deadlight

Deadlight
Release Date: August 1, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Plays Like: Shadow Complex; Limbo; Trine

What's Great: My kind of game. Deadlight is a classic 2D platformer that dabbles in action elements, but is more 2D than 2.5D, in that, the visuals and environments are fully 3D (much like Shadow Complex), but the game is strictly up/down, left/right movement. There are no upgrades to your weapons, but you do gather a handful of different weapons to work with, such as an axe or shotgun. The story, while a tad shallow, does pick up the pace later in; the twist, while some could guess at, is a nice surprise, one that hasn't been used all that often as of late.

What's (Not So) Great: Some puzzle solutions are not incredibly obvious, but not a huge hindrance. Climbing and jumping - key elements of a platformer - aren't as solid as you would hope, especially when it comes to climbing down, which has been my biggest issue; the window of opportunity to tell Randall when to grab a hold of a lower ledge is sporadic. The spoken dialogue is fucking horrendous, and the writing could be just a smidge better. Shadows (what this game calls their zombies) can be deadly when there are more than one, which is what it should be, however, several axe swings later, they still haven't lost a limb, their head, or at least fallen over; combat en masse is the burden to this game.

Bottom Line: This is a fun game, do not let others tell you otherwise. If you are a fan of classic platformers, you'll fall right in line here. This may be another post-apocalyptic zombie game, but a great, fresh take on the genre; don't expect anything like Left 4 Dead, but more akin to The Walking Dead episodic game currently out there, as it's more focused on story and exploration, rather than zombie maiming. It is fairly short, so some may have a hard time swallowing that $15 price tag. If need be, wait until a sale, but you may be kicking yourself in the ass when that sale comes, as you didn't experience this game now.

Grade: B-

(Downloaded the game from Xbox LIVE Arcade for the full 1200 MSP. Played the game entirely, earning all 30 Achievements, taking just under 2 hours to complete the game altogether.)

(Ed. Note: I updated the 'Plays Like' field to be more accurate; referencing 15+ year old games isn't necessarily a good way to do it.)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Double Fine Adventure Backer Goodies Now Arriving!

If the mailmen are now coming
into your house and leaving packages,
it appears I may have a problem.
I stumble through my front door, with my various knick-knacks in hand after a week's worth of work, two cases of Sam Adam's Octoberfest under my arms, and as I get settled in at my computer, I see something standing there, on my desk, presumably left there by the girlfriend: a large cardboard tube with my name on it.

Pray tell, what could it be?

I pop the lid, and, low and behold, I discover something:


Sadly, I recognize that font anywhere.

I hastily dump the contents onto my desk, and here is the treasure trove of goodies sent from Double Fine studios, themselves:


The poster, shirt, pin, and sticker, all for the backers get for sending them a certain amount of money; I, myself, pledged $100 towards them.


I'll be wearing that shirt tomorrow.

Friday, July 27, 2012

[SITE NEWS] Happenin's

It's been a while since I've given a site update, and with that spree of reviews I threw out, I want to let people know what's going on behind the scenes, and that this is more than just a hub of reviews...

For the "tl;dr" kids, skip to the bottom.

First and foremost:

Reviews
For starters, you may have noticed a huge influx of review posts, strangely appearing after a large absence of those posts. My review process has been streamlined, and I would like to state that the style of reviews will be staying the same for the time being, however, when I write the review, I will be adding exactly what portions of the game I played, how far (if I did not finish, which is a rare circumstance), length, etc.. Going forward (with the exception of a few drafted reviews I have here that may have been posted while I was creating this), reviews will be posted in a sense of "lasting impressions", hopefully within 24 hours - upwards of a week - of completing the game's campaign (keyword: hopefully). I forbid myself from multiplayer games except in very rare, extreme circumstances (read: Halo).

With that in mind, I will only be reviewing the campaign mode of the game. Most multiplayer I have been exposed to has been horrendous, and the communities built around the services - be it Xbox LIVE or PlayStation Network - are no where near forgiving. I have met a few fortunate souls that have not been tainted by the aspect of anonymity, and I remain in contact with a few of them. Outside of those contacts, online gaming communities are fucking abysmal, and I refuse to take part in any of them.

Additionally, I will be adding a new "Plays Like" section at the beginning, giving you an idea of what other games this closely resembles; if you read Alternative Press, this will seem very familiar. If there is an available review for that game, I will link to the review for the game (or for the most recent entry in the series).

All of these changes are taking effect as of my Lollipop Chainsaw review.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

[REVIEW] Lollipop Chainsaw

Lollipop Chainsaw
Release Date: June 12, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Plays LikeBayonetta, MadWorld, Devil May Cry

What's Great: Suda 51 doesn't censor himself, and his crude humor shines through. With lines like "I'd never thought I'd be rescued by someone with such great tits", or "I'm going to go home and masturbate to you", Suda's mind is at all times present. The combat, while sometimes unresponsive, is addicting. I'm not sure what makes it so, but I first walked into this very skeptically, and each time I put it down, I hesitated to pick it back up. Each successive time I did, I found myself playing longer and longer. Health, while non-regenerative (thankfully), is in the form of lollipops, and they are in an abundant supply.

What's (Not So) Great: Where to start? Combat is unresponsive (as stated above), with combos not registering fully. You'll get the hang of the timing, but it's not like you'd expect: rather than press X 4 times then Y twice, you press X until you memorize each pom-pom attack, and once you see her do her jump/dive and roll, you know to cram on the Y button until the super combo hits. The upgrade system/store is incredibly annoying, especially hearing that goddamned lollipop song; I learned to hit Mute on my remote once I came to a shop. There are no previews for combos, nor do they give you more information than a one-liner in the shop (there really should have been a training hub that would allow you to practice combos). One gripe I do have is that, while you can exchange 500 Gold zombie medals for 1 Platinum, there's no way of reversing that exchange; why can't I trade in my one Platinum coin for even 100 Gold medals? Successive upgrades, such as for health or strength, shoot up drastically in price, making you grind your way through Sparkle Mode and plan your attacks accordingly, lining up zombies for multiple take-downs in one swipe. Grinding is not fun, especially for money.

Bottom Line: I'm a huge Suda 51 fan, so when I first heard he was doing a zombie hack-n-slash, I was pretty ecstatic. When it was succeeded by "starring a voluptuous cheerleader with a chainsaw", my heart sank, then rose. The game itself is one of those games that, if you live with your significant other, be prepared to be judged, as I was. Despite the story being utter horseshit (compared to Shadows or No More Heroes), the game can be surprisingly addicting. There are many flaws in the combat, and with a genre that has many forefathers that have nailed the execution, the sequel - if there is one - should take some major cues from games such as Bayonetta and Devil May Cry. I feel that, if Suda 51 does create a sequel (a rarity in his studio) for this game, I feel there is so much more room for improvement, and I do welcome a sequel that fixes those issues. Despite my rampant negativity towards the game, it is a game that can be fun, but only to a very small niche.

GradeC


(Lollipop Chainsaw was obtained through GameFly, played on Normal, completing the campaign, missing one classmate. Played stage select to rescue the last student and replayed last boss fight to unlock "Happy Ending". Didn't bother with different modes.)

Monday, July 16, 2012

[REVIEW] The Walking Dead: Episode 2 - Starved for Help

The Walking Dead: Episode 2 - Starved for Help
Release Date: June 27, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360

Ed. Note: There are spoilers in this review, but they have been whited-out. Just highlight to read.

What's Great: A fantastic continuation of the story. I enjoyed how the story began, but now, you're making decisions for the group. The level of "disgusting" is ramped up, as, what I thought was a dream sequence ended up being the real deal (SPOILER!: I seriously thought that Lee was dreaming the situation with Mark being cut in half after being wounded by the bandits, and his legs being the main course dish everyone ate up). The game is starting to turn into that promised "tailored" experience, and I love seeing my changes being recognized by later chapters of this game.

What's (Not So) Great: Some decisions aren't handled the best way. For instance, divvying up rations was partially fucked, in that, why can't the kids share the cheese and crackers? Why can't I split up the beef jerkey between two adults? Haven't you people heard of the leap-frog schedule, where people alternate days of eating; it sucks, but the situation at hand it brutal. Other choices don't appear to have that much of a lasting, such as everything that happens between those on the dairy farm.

Bottom Line: If you've played episode 1, you should continue the story, no doubt. If you have yet to pick up the game because people said episode 1 was dull, you have every reason now to pick it up. The releasing of the episode wasn't exactly what I wanted - it took two months to get episode 2 - but I do appreciate that Tell Tale has acknowledged that, and states that episode 3 will be out in about a months time. This is going to be the longest month of my life.

GradeA-

Thursday, July 12, 2012

[ODDITIES] Things You See Around Town

Driving around town, you see some weird shit. Particularly, it's interesting to know that Virginia has the most personalized vanity plates around. If you have your own personalized plate, you may witness people taking out their cell phone and snapping a picture of your plate. Hell, I've had it happen to me, and in the 3-ish years I've had my plates, I've seen around 10 people take pictures of my plates while driving, or had people remark about my Autobot logo in place of the Honda symbol while in a parking lot.

I know the feeling.

So imagine it when this guy has a license plate that reads "4DEHORD", or, "For the Horde", with the WoW Horde logo on his spare tire cover. The license plate is one thing, but to sell it with the logo is another.

After the break, catch a nice little Adventure nod in Penny Arcade's OtRSPoD: E3, referencing the oh-so-infamous duck/dragon. Sure, it's not while driving, but it's something I've been meaning to share with everyone.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

[REVIEW] LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes

Alrighty, my first review after my spree of mini reviews. I'm still toying with the idea of a new review format, but in the meantime, I'm going with what works for now, but I will be adding

LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
Release Date: June 19, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360

What's Great: A necessary change to the stagnant LEGO formula, LEGO Batman 2 shows that there is still life left in the idea of mashing LEGOes with [insert favorite intellectual property here]. I was highly skeptical of the first Batman game, but it proved to be fun, as you didn't have to keep up with established plot points from other franchises; you just grabbed a character and let it happen. The open world, similar to Hogwarts in the LEGO Harry Potter games, is a big improvement, as rather a cross section of places like Hogwarts, you have full control of the camera and can view just about everything.

What's (Not So) Great: I'm not completely sold on voice acting in the LEGO games. While the actors did a great job with their respective characters, I feel the miming from all previous games worked very well, and it was a great way to see how they attempted to convey their own speech to others, using props and whatnot throughout it. Despite being subtitled "DC Super Heroes", you don't get to play as Superman until about the 4th mission, and the rest of the Justice League doesn't kick until the second to last mission.

Bottom Line: The game does hold promise for the future of the franchise, especially with LEGO Lord of the Rings when that comes out, but I do fear that, if they don't attempt to bring in new elements to help make each successive game feel fresh, these games will just be re-skins of their predecessors. It's still a fun game, being able to play as the rest of the Justice League - even if it is at the end of the game - is rewarding, and the open world gives you plenty to do in-between missions, as well as after the game, something LEGO games put into each release.

GradeB-

[REVIEW] Last batch of mini reviews!

What went from a daunting task became something I could easily achieve, thanks to the new job where most of the mini reviews were written. I do enjoy the format, but I believe there's definite room for improvement, something I'll be looking into. In the meantime, enjoy!



The Walking Dead: Episode 1 - A New Day
Release Date: April 27, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360


What's Great: A fantastic recreation of the Walking Dead universe, all in on-rails, decision making. While some were quick to give the game shit, I'm on it's defense, saying simply this: the show is far less like Left 4 Dead and much more Heavy Rain. You are not running around, shooting zombies. In the series, it is heavily emphasized on stealth, no loud noises (read: guns), and establishing that foundation with other survivors you meet. This is recreated in the game greatly, and our decision now will alter the story, Mass Effect style.


What's (Not So) Great: Some choices you are presented with in conversations don't necessarily match my thought process. It's been a while since I've played episode 1, but I remember the conversation with Herschel in the barn just before the attack had a question that I was dumbfounded with the choices. I'm sorry I can't make a direct reference, but some choices just don't match with what's going on in the game.


Bottom Line: I'll be very honest: I didn't get into The Walking Dead until I watched the season 2 finale at my parents house when it aired (no, I have not read the comics; I don't want to spoil the show, despite the differences in canon). It took a few months, but I ended up watching both seasons in about a week's time, and I was hooked. This game does so much service to the franchise, it's retarded. The decision making you're forced with is exactly what you see happen in the show or comics: do we do this? Are we going to help this person? Do we seek shelter here or later? Those dynamic conversations, despite their impact not visible by the end of episode 1, could drastically alter the game's story by the time episode 5 hits, presumably right before season 3 of the show begins. There is so much potential with the story, and I eagerly await the next installments.


GradeB+

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Guy Tries to Buy $100 Worth of Digital Content Using my Best Buy Account


We see this? I hope you do.

I (literally) received this order confirmation email not less than 10 minutes ago, saying that some jackass bought $100 worth of iTunes and PlayStation Network monies on my Best Buy account. Worst part is, his email address shows up in the email.

Yes, I was able to cancel the order before it was processed, removed my on-file credit card from my account, and changed my password.

For those who can't see the email - or just want to copy/paste the email - it is beckkumler@writeme.com. Now, I'm aware that writeme domains are notoriously known for being absolute shit, so I'm thinking it's a possible throwaway email for this kid.

Regardless, who wants to deal some damage here? Take it, to what you will with it. I don't care, but it's time to have fun.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Nintendo Setting Up Select Club Nintendo Members on a Date with the Wii U


I just got this email in from Club Nintendo, asking me to reserve a spot for a special hands-on with the Wii U later this month in DC on the outskirts of GWU.

From the email:

Club Nintendo is very excited to invite you to get a sneak peek of Nintendo's upcoming Wii U™ console! You've been chosen from amongst our most loyal members to get this exclusive hands-on experience with the revolutionary new touch screen controller, full HD graphics, and innovative games you won't want to miss.
To make your first Wii U experience even more memorable, we want you to invite your friends and family to join you. Upon completion of the registration process, you’ll be provided with 3 invitations you can share with whomever you like. 

Now, there are time slots you have to sign up for across those three dates in the image (July 26-29). I, myself, am signed up for the Saturday time for 1-3pm. They do allow you to bring 2 3 additional guests, but I'm not that privy (yet) to hand out codes to complete strangers, regardless of how much I'd like my readers (the small handful there is) to be able to enjoy it.

They do ask you for access to your Facebook profile so they can post pictures to your Facebook profile of you at the event, when you arrive, and all that. Once there, I'll be posting hands-on impressions and what-not.